Monday, 30 January 2012

A Man's a Man for A' That


A Man's a Man for A' That

Is there for honest Poverty 
That hings his head, an' a' that; 
The coward slave-we pass him by, 
We dare be poor for a' that! 
For a' that, an' a' that. 
Our toils obscure an' a' that, 
The rank is but the guinea's stamp, 
The Man's the gowd for a' that. 

What though on hamely fare we dine, 
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that; 
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine; 
A Man's a Man for a' that: 
For a' that, and a' that, 
Their tinsel show, an' a' that; 
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor, 
Is king o' men for a' that. 

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord, 
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that; 
Tho' hundreds worship at his word, 
He's but a coof for a' that: 
For a' that, an' a' that, 
His ribband, star, an' a' that: 
The man o' independent mind 
He looks an' laughs at a' that. 

A prince can mak a belted knight, 
A marquis, duke, an' a' that; 
But an honest man's abon his might, 
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that! 
For a' that, an' a' that, 
Their dignities an' a' that; 
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth, 
Are higher rank than a' that. 

Then let us pray that come it may, 
(As come it will for a' that,) 
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth, 
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that. 
For a' that, an' a' that, 
It's coming yet for a' that, 
That Man to Man, the world o'er, 
Shall brothers be for a' that.





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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Tidy Desk



I was going to regale you with a post full of insight and understanding.  I could have put the world in its place, given wisdom regarding the problems and difficulties we all face, but as I mused on my subject I realsied I just couldn't be bothered!  It is Sunday evening, I am listening to 'Mellow Jazz' on http://www.jazzradio.com/ and this therefore is a time to relax and fill the mind with thoughts of good things. 'Whatsoever is pure, whatsoever is lovely think on these things' is the way.  Anyway I am tired after a hard days football watching, freezing my socks off in the chilly air, and watching my Nan turn into a charred, blackened brick as I have yet to get a grip on the grill on the oven.  The smell ought to disperse by Tuesday.   The picture is my view whenever I sit here to contemplate or watch football.  The picture manages to hide the thick layer of dust that lies over everything (any spare women out there?) however it does show piles of unattended items, like bills!  The sheet of paper directly in front of me was put there to remind me to attend to it straight away,, it has been lying there since the 9th of the month!  I might look at it tomorrow after I have checked the money situation, I fear the overdraught has once more gone over the overdraught!  This means a letter from the bank informing me they cannot pay as I have no money but as I have no money they wish £20 more thanks a bunch!  That nice Mr Hester at the Royal bank of Scotland has just been given a bonus of just under a million pounds. He is not the best paid, and I wonder what the CEO got as a bonus at my bank?  I know where it comes from! Grrr 'Whatsoever is lovely'....think man, think!






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Saturday, 28 January 2012

'The Real Dad's Army'




'The Real Dad's Army' is the diary of Rodney Foster, written during the Second World War.  Foster had been born in India a son of the Raj and educated in England as so many  were. Commissioned into the army he returned to India to serve there for some time before realising promotion was stilted within the regiment structure and moved to the Indian version of the Ordinance Survey, the Survey of India, where he spent most of his time. He did return to England (never Britain please note) to collect a wife and back to the Indian army once more when the Great War broke out.  After retirement in 1932 he took a house in Hythe on the south coast of England in time to prepare for the Second World War.  Because of Mr Hitlers desire to turn Poland and Russia into his new Empire this soon followed in 1939.  After Dunkirk in 1940 a great fear of invasion by Germany took hold of Britain. A Militia was called for and hundreds of thousands of men, many ex-servicemen from the 'Last Lot' enlisted. This organisation was called at first the 'Local Defence Volunteers (the 'LDV,' known as 'Look, Duck and Vanish!').  Using whatever weapons were to hand, including spears and broom handles with sharp knives attached, these determined squads of men prepared to defend their homes.  At first it was a haphazard organisation without uniforms or proper weapons, and in some cases a motley collection of leaders.  Later called ' the 'Home Guard,' this was to become a very efficient militia thanks in part to the men like Rodney Foster who took charge of  the 'Saltwood' platoon in his own locale and later 'B' Company in Folkstone a couple of miles to the east.

'Dad's Army' was a very successful comedy show made in the 70's and still shown regularly on BBC television.  This was based on a small town similar to Hythe, on the south coast, and in immediate danger of enemy action.  A great many of the stories involved situations that arose with the 'Home Guard, the real 'Dad's Army!'  A comedy it may have been but the situations that arose were very deadly at time.  Fosters diary comments on almost daily air raids, often hitting the town with resultant loss, shells fired from across the channel, and replied to by big guns based at Dover a little further along the coast, shelling from ships of both sides in the channel and convoys attacked by enemy aircraft and fast moving 'E' Boats as the convoys passed one way or another.  In spite of the danger, and the rest of the houses in their road being commandeered by the army, the Fosters remained in their home until the end of the war.  This is remarkable as they possessed no shelter bar the big kitchen table, and all three often slept through the constant air raids and accompanying sirens!  Explosions which awoke them or shook the house from afar did not always see them rise to take an interest, sleep was more important!

The diary entries are short and to the point.  These reveal something of Rodney's character and the real daily life of the war years.  Little is said about the deprivations, although hints are abundant, and the red tape that follows from major military operations in the area is constant when he drives around as a member of the 'volunteer driving pool.' This last meant often taking the sick into hospitals or various individuals around Kent on their 'war work,' some of whom bring out Mr Fosters opinions quite clearly.  Deaths, sometimes tragic, are occasionally mentioned, but his response is a soldiers response of just 'Keep calm and get on with it,' an attitude that stayed with many who endured the war, and an attitude not so common today.  Descriptions, brief but enlightening are given of the troops around them, reports of the war in far off places, and occasional rumours, which usually abound in war under the secrecy prevailing.  One interesting aspect is the weather.  How often the entry records a summers day with the words, 'Cold,' or 'Rain all day,' 'fog,' indicating in Britain some things never change.  An occasional very 'hot' day is recorded, but not many!  A notable fact is the swing from the early years of constant fear of enemy air raids to the mentions of our aircraft, in ever increasing numbers, flying of by day and by night over the coast into enemy held territory.  Also noted are the noise of explosions and the shaking of the buildings when actions take place out of sight deep in France and Belgium. Like many others Foster compares the number going out with the number returning.  Difficulties with a senior officer caused Rodney to leave the Home Guard and become an ARP warden (Air Raid Precautions) an occupation which gave him an easier life physically and with much less 'office politics' stress.  Self importance is a curse in all military establishments.  


Rodney had developed his artistic skills while working on the 'Survey of India,' and continued to sketch and paint throughout the war, even becoming considered a 'spy' at one point for painting in a main street!  He wrote a great deal and a huge archive is now in private hands, some 22 volumes, covering his time in India and elsewhere, plus paintings etc, yet he died an obscure unknown with little if anything published.  His diary has now been published, almost by accident, and his insight into the war years are very revealing of daily life in one of the more dangerous parts of the world at that time.  A great many servicemen saw less action than those remaining in the south coast of England at that time.  This diary was difficult to put down.  Easy to read and full of interesting details revealing life as it happened during the war.  Different from other war books I have read and appealing to many folks from all backgrounds I think this was an excellent book, and not just because it was a gift!


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Friday, 27 January 2012

Friday Post




Friday is the sixth day of the week, unless you are Jewish, Muslim or unable to count. The name in northern Europe derives from 'Frigg'  being the name given to the wife of Odin in Norse mythology, and therefore implies Friday is the day you, er... 'cough'... 'attend' to the wife I suppose.  Various European Fridays also have a female base for Friday, so not much work would be done in the northern hemisphere in times past on that day then.  Some think Friday is an unlucky day, but probably not many women, and allied with the thirteenth day can cause much alarm in the UK. How often have you come across those, mostly female, people informing the wide world that as it is the thirteenth things will go wrong.  When you inform the congregation that earthquakes, fires, accidents, tornadoes and toothache happen on other days you are regarded as an unbeliever!  Any investigation into actual hardships on that day reveal nothing untowards and even less knowledge as to why thirteen or Friday the is unlucky!  


Islam of course regards Friday as the Holy day.  Mosques fill up with the faithful to pray and listen to sermons from the Imam.  Troubled Islamic nations often find rioting occurring after such sermons and avoiding such places in troubled lands is advisable.  Christians only regard 'Good Friday' as relevant although Roman Catholics used to avoid meat on Fridays as a form of 'penance,' although the bible does not contain such a word. Only 'repentance' is found, which refers to turning from wrong and following Christ himself. Today the RC's tend to eat more than fish on Fridays. Sundown on Friday is the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, this lasts until sundown on Saturday.  Disasters on a Friday are often referred to as 'Black Fridays,' while 'Casual Friday,' or 'Dress down Friday,' has become popular in some business premises as an easing of the normal office dress code. It rarely made much difference to me,whether in office or otherwise. A 'Girl Friday,' was a term coined by those looking for a secretary to do the odd jobs around the office.  Today however feminist clowns object to this and 'Person Fridays' must be asked for. Only the female ones get jobs however.  The term is based on the 'Robinson Crusoe' stories where the hero discovers a black man to do all his work for him, very English that.  The author stole the idea for the story while touring Scotland selling the nation to the English parliament.  The original was Alexander Selkirk, a young man from Lower Largo, Fife, who ran away to sea and ended up on a Pacific island for several years.  He did not meet any 'Man Friday.'  


For most people Friday is the last day of the working week.  This means leisure time tonight, fun and enjoyment on Saturday and Sunday, then back to work on Monday, unless you are on the dole of course.  Whatever you do, enjoy your Friday, with or without a 'Person Friday' to help you.






Thursday, 26 January 2012

Thursday



RDG asked what a 'Burns Supper' was. I thought I would quickly inform you to please her and avoid going out in the rain.  Rain is something to avoid when there are holes in the shoes.  Many years ago some fans of Robert Burns, indeed some people who had in fact known him, devised a 'supper' where they could remember him and toast his memory.  This is not a new fad, the Romans did this in the catacombs to remember their dead, and indeed Christians do the same in most churches. Since that time it developed rapidly in Scotland the idea of getting together on the long, cold winters night to remember Scotland's favourite Bard and eat and drink, in some cases mostly drink!  


Basically a Haggis is brought in, following a Piper in more formal settings, and a member of the congregation will read, or quote from memory, Burns ode, 'Address to a Haggis!'  

"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!"   

Then the pudding is toasted with whisky and served with 'neeps and tatties,' (Mashed turnip and potatoes.) As Burns himself died in 1796 few people today actually met him. However a speech in his 'Immortal Memory' recording some of Burns doings will be made by a knowledgeable member of the assembly, usually amusing, usually short enough to stop the locals finishing the whisky too early.  Toasts will be made to the cook, the piper, various members of the dining fraternity and readings of Burns massive output of poems will be given, and possibly his many songs sung. 

A good time is had by all, and the local constabulary will arrive to remove the bodies in the wee small hours.

There is a lot to admire in Robert Burns.  Hard working farmer as well as a born poet, almost self educated, popular with the ladies, yet not to keen on the 'literati set' in Edinburgh, though he got on well with the ladies!  After his time in Edinburgh he returned to the farm but times were hard so he became an exciseman possibly with the idea of 'set a thief to catch a thief!  Smuggling being popular work in those days. We were told as kids that he died from overwork on the farm.  However it is also alleged that while his health was failing, and his lifestyle possibly catching up with him, he fell asleep on the grass verge in the rain while heading home from the pub and woke up 'deid!  Take your pick as to what you believe!



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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Rabbie Burns



Epitaph for James Smith

Lament him, Mauchline husbands a', 
He aften did assist ye; 
For had ye staid hale weeks awa, 
Your wives they ne'er had miss'd ye. 

Ye Mauchline bairns, as on ye press 
To school in bands thegither, 
O tread ye lightly on his grass, - 
Perhaps he was your faither!


Robert Burns spent four years in Mauchline, some say amongst his most formative.  He met and married Jean Armour, his 'Bonny Jean,' and would have known all the citizens of this small village, including James Smith and the wives around the town!  I will think of Rabbie as I partake of my tinned Haggis tonight!

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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Another Dreich Day



How lovely!  The farmers will be pleased!  No muttering that there is insufficient rainfall so far this year as it has teemed down all day!  The holes in my shoes decided me to stay in and fill out yet another application form, in black ink, and be depressed afterwards knowing that two first class stamps have been wasted on the attempt.  This attempt dulled the mind, ideal time to make a huge pot of mince I thought, mince being reminiscent of the inside of my head after lying, in black ink, for so long.  I decided to wash the black ink of my hand before I did this however, fountain pens enable me to write a tad clearer but not sufficiently for them to read and understand anything written there I suspect.  Using a keyboard for so long has enabled my once tidy writing to become a scrawl.  Sometimes I have to pop into the chemist to interpret what I have written!  This weather is mild in comparison to some winters, and much better than up north in (almost) Independent Scotland.  I read an interview with the great Alan Gilzean, once Dundee then Spurs and  Scotland's centre forward.  He came from Couper Angus near Dundee and returned there to receive the adulation of the fans and was happy to go back home to Weston Super Mare in the English south west. The weather was too windy and cold for the 73 years old when he was there, and I can understand this.  I was made to live somewhere warm, I think I will look up 'Jobs for Idiots' in the Arabian Gulf.  I can suffer 100 degrees quite easily!  In the early 70's my brother was stationed out that way. he returned to Edinburgh one January day when snow lay on the ground and the temperature was about 6 below freezing.  He was not happy having left 105 in the shade behind!    




This afternoon, in between wondering where my life went wrong, I came across this Jazz Radio outfit. There are several stations, if that is the word, and I have been indulging in the Paris Cafe for a while.  Jazz was to me just several men playing different tunes at the same time once, but not now!  I have learned that they are all playing the same tune, it's just a bit mixed up that's all!  Try it you music lovers Jazz Radio



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Sunday, 22 January 2012

A brief history of England.


Stonehenge in between rain storms 


Around 10,000 BC the ice that had covered the Northern Hemisphere began to recede.  This reached as far south as parts of Essex and stopped in London at the Finchley Road Tube Station, trains to Wembley Park and Amersham were delayed by this. Within a thousand years or so people were using Salisbury Plain as a meeting place, possibly for worship.  It could be they originated in what is now Europe proper, the North Sea had yet to flow south and separate the British Isles from the rest of the land mass. This finally occurred around 6500 BC and many men moved their families onto the new island, while just as many sent them the other way to France to give themselves some peace. Here the few, no, not that 'Few,' settled down to clear the trees, plant crops, and watch football.  They were taught this game by the Scots who had come south to play the tourist, having lived in igloos during the ice age. Sadly it was as yet unavailable on television, this meant actually watching the game live, in the rain. When the early English refused to give the Jocks their ball back they went home, and a state of enmity has remained between the peace loving Scots and the Imperialist English. Within a short thousand years or two settlements were established, standing stones were standing, wars were being fought, this being the English predilection, Flint mines were sprouting downwards and Stonehenge was built.  This as we know was never completed as the roof was never put on.  The English habit of imperialism is seen here, the blue stone used was nicked from Wales when the locals were not looking! 


With the Atlantic Ocean to the west the land suffered from rain quite severely.  This, plus the fact that more populated areas had never heard of it, meant the isles were ignored for the most part although traffic across the sea to Europe for trade, wine, pottery, women, and sickly French cheese, did occur.  In Marseilles a man named Pytheas referred to the Pretanic Isles. Whether he did this on parchment or just scribbled this on a toilet wall is not stated, but mention it he did. Nobody paid any attention bar Belgians who trekked across to Essex where they heard there were jobs available picking and packing frozen peas. This did not please the locals who began to write to the 'Daily Mail' demanding to know why so many foreign Johnnies were coming over here to 'take our jobs and live off the dole?'  They fought back this way and by moving out  and stealing land from those who lived in the wilder west.  This plan was so successful that some time later it was copied in the Americas.


Having once more settled down to peaceful cattle rustling and women stealing the tribes were somewhat surprised and a bit cheesed off when a small balding bloke from Rome turned up and attempted to invade them. (55-45 BC) Having nothing to prove but his desire to be emperor Julius Caesar did eventually get himself ashore, kill an army or two, and fled back to Gaul and the warmer climate.  His only reason to invade was 'because it was there,' and his expedition became a wash out.  This was to be expected as most things get washed out in the British Isles by the rain.  Romes desire to win Britannica was such that at Rome senators were heard to say "Where?" and "What's in it for me?"


The Celts living in Colchester continued on their happy warpath not noticing the European influence.  The young rich who became influenced by the Romans in Gaul, the wine, the togas, being educated all brought "tut tut's" from the older generation who despised people who could read, an English habit today judging by the spelling in the newspapers.  This gradual seeping of Roman influence led to Aulus Plautius invading in 43 AD under orders from Claudius to win him a 'Triumph.'  A previous invasion under Emperor Caligula faded out on the Gaul shoreline when the Emperor ordered his men to collect those nice shell found on the beaches.  The Roman soldiers thoughts on this were not recorded.  Vespasian, an up and coming general brings Civilisation to the south of England by sticking swords into anyone he meets. He became Emperor himself using similar tactics in 66 AD.  Oh you will have noticed the BC has gone and the AD has come.  This did not matter at the time as Englishmen did not use calendars in those days, in fact their watches didn't have a little date that was always three days behind either.  While Boudica decided to get peeved at a slight by a Roman general, he raped her daughters and took all she belonged after her husband, the chief, had died, some would  say burning Londinium (London) and Camulodunum (Colchester) to the ground while everybody was still inside possibly a bit of an over reaction.  However girls will be girls.  Naturally the Romans had ways of responding to this, they came and stuck sword into everybody for miles around.  More 'Civilisation' you see.


The English were often quite happy to let these foreigners take over and those who attempted to resist soon became civilised. Sometimes by the sword, sometimes by being flayed alive, sometimes by being forced to eat spaghetti with a fork.  However when the Romans got to Scotland they were told where to get off. Those that did get off found themselves floating back down the sea lanes.  Crying "Woad unto ye," the peace lovers up north put aside their books and studies, used their mighty wisdom and knowledge of the terrain, allowed the Romans to march north and get stuck in snow drifts until they got fed up with it all they built a wall and stayed away.  Every so often, when the football season was over, the Scots would come to the wall and throw dead Haggis at the Mediterranean types shivering on the walls.  Some still do this today to the tourists backpacking along the wall in the rain.


All good things must come to an end and as Alaric the Rangers fan invaded Rome the Mediterranean types took their good looks, their wine, their opera singing and their slow, fouling type of football and went home to defend their city.  They were too late so they could have stayed here had the locals not charged them so much for rent!  By the year 500 AD all was changed, but that's for another day.





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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Saturday Saddo



I know I should not laugh but I am afraid I cannot help it.  This 'Daily Mail story makes me laugh even though it was fatal.  This man became convinced he could survive living off the land for a year in the Scottish Highlands.  He was impressed by the tales of 'Bear Grylls,' whoever he is, and after attending survival courses and taking the proper equipment he set out.  Now he has been found dead after only a month, possibly from Hypothermia!  Now there could be another explanation but there is something funny about the irony within this tragedy.  Just because you see a professional doing it on telly does not mean it can be done in the highlands in January!  Just because you think you can do it does not mean your body can take the strain.  Living off rip off Tesco's is one thing, living off the land takes a bit off getting used to, especially under piles of snow!  This is a sad tale indeed but sadly I did snigger at this.




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Friday, 20 January 2012

Friday Filler




Not sure if I ever posted this one.  I took it in the early 80's during the summertime, (I think it was Saturday the 15th that year) and my mate pointed out the man and his pillow.  Some folks will make use of anything when they require rest! "Put a head on my beer mate," fits well here.  



I have however sorted the adverts problem on Chrome.  I am using Adblock and I suspended the 'Easy List' and the Google ads returned.  I suspect I will also now have a billion other ads until I reinstate it while fuming!  Black & White whisky?  Whoever sees that these days?  We only see the whisky that sells in supermarkets and their choice is the blends that sell, nothing else matters!


This was to be the car that I was going to drive down Route 66 for my next trip. Sadly someone has just purchased it, and so I am off to pump up the tyres on my bike instead.


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Thursday, 19 January 2012

Adverts

So what gives with Adsense?  I have this on here yet by using Chrome, owned by Google, I cannot see any!
I note that my earnings have reached over £23, which surprises me, and these ads do not show up on Firefox either.  Just what is the point of adverts that either cannot be seen or are always shoved in your face?  I noticed that the row along the top is where I put them, but a dirty big square one has appeared to the left of the main page.  There was also another under a post, but I have managed to remove this.  Common sense appears to be lacking somewhere if adverts from Google cannot be seen on Google Chrome, or is it just me?

Anyway, let's have a laff!




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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Jack D



The Red Cross food parcel sent to me at Christmas by my intelligent sister (she knew this was cheaper than a present) contained, beside the Christmas pudding and instant custard, a miniature bottle of 'Jack Daniels' in a tin. Now I am not much of a drinker, half a bottle of Guinness and I'm anybody's, if they can pick me up off the floor, but I do like a nip of whisky or such like, especially late in the evening.  This is the first time I have tried Jack D and in spite of the poor spelling of Whisky, we all know Americans cannot spell,  I reckon I could grow to like this, if it was free!  A strange taste unlike most other whiskies but  somewhat similar to Laphroaig I think.  That is an acquire taste and one of the managers at Royal Mail had indeed managed to acquire a taste for this.  I suspect he would be wiling to acquire a taste for Jack D also!


World wide people develop strong spirits of one sort or another.  Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Arak the aniseed drink found in the middle east, and vodka, made from potatoes they say although I suspect grain is used more these days.  'Fire water' is popular world wide in one form or another and while beneficial in many ways, the only reason I use it, most are not concerned with the flavour, they just wish to get drunk! This is difficult to believe but I have known people to put orange juice into their whisky!  That individual enjoyed this alongside a bag of 'Kelp' seaweed.  He claimed this was his lunch!


I wonder if I sent the empty back to my dear sweet sister  would she refill it perhaps.....? 




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Tuesday, 17 January 2012



This is really a small quiet town, actually quite boring to be honest. It contains all most folks require, shops, rail and road connections, even if slow, a market, schools and well paid councilors. There are pubs, cafes, a cinema even a swimming pool somewhere and a dole office.  But it is somewhat boring.  For those with young kids it is ideal, teenagers however find it very boring indeed, hence the town has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the UK.  Many of these occur in the bushes of the park opposite as the kids gather during the summer evenings, I must remember my camera when I go out in the Spring....
Those who grew up here, and those of mature years find the town quiet but more to their liking, especially the rich with their automobiles.  They can run into more exciting places when they choose to.  The town has alongside an individuals needs one of the lowest crime rates in Englandshire. 


However the last week or two has seen the local paper decide to call it a 'Town in Mourning,' in large headlines.  The reason for the headline was the untimely deaths of three people, two from manslaughter and one lassie of a mere 28 who was found dead in a garden. As these deaths are under investigation it is not possible to do more than offer the bare facts as far as they are known.  However the three last week have been added to by two more on Sunday it appears.  Next door neighbours, possibly arguing about car parking, both end up dead!  Pictured above we see Essex's finest during their painstaking investigation.  It makes me think I would be safer in Edinburgh, among the drugdealing gangsters!    


Twenty years in London and I never came across anything like this.  Possibly it just happened round the corner and never came into my ken, but it appears arguments may well have led to deaths.  How easily we allow little things to grow and we lose control, especially serious when several of those involved were well into their 50's or above.  I must avoid getting too excited when confronted with the world's stupidity in the next few days, it could be dangerous!




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Monday, 16 January 2012

The Bike



The sun was shining, the sky was blue, so this afternoon, once I had worked up the courage, I got out onto the bike for the first time in two months.  I had decided yesterday that another exercise period was required, so this morning I attempted just that and in the afternoon I jumped on the rusting old bike and pedaled around for twenty minutes. The sun may have been shining but the wind was coming from the east, via Siberia, so while my genteel hands were warm and cosy in the gloves my face took an instant dislike to being frozen.  Once home I walked around the town continuing to being frozen but the only way to avoid the knees freezing up also!


This little trip made me wonder how, in 1974, I had managed to cycle from Edinburgh to London!  I had the idea that this would be a cheap holiday so I decided to by a bike!  Now remember that I had not ridden a bike for about ten years yet I searched the papers and found one on sale for £18!  I made my way to the south east of the city and bought a bike from a man who told me that the owner had, "Gone to Australia."  I found myself wondering in he knew he had emigrated.  However I got on the bike, somewhat shakily, and suddenly remembered I had miles to go through Edinburgh streets.  I cannot recall the journey but I suspect it was not straight forward.  A few weeks later I set off on my journey.  Today, having developed the brain a bit better, I would spend six months training for this venture, checking the food I ate, stocking up on carbohydrates and the like.  Then I just jumped on the bike, a packet of sandwiches and a few bags of raisins and nuts or some such, and discovered this was not going to be as easy as I thought.  Cycling to work was one thing, cycling with packs on the bike another, and it rained!


It tool me two hours to be clear of Edinburgh as I wandered through Leith and Musselburgh heading for the A1 and the road south.  It did not take the rest of the week to make me realise I was a clown!  Cycling the back roads of the A1 was pleasant to look at, but the up and down nature of the roads got very wearing, especially as old men on ancient bikes swept past me contemptuously.  Averaging fifty miles a day (today about three!) I made it in a week.  I stopped at a couple of Youth Hostels for the first two nights and was not impressed, so stayed in a couple of pubs and a couple of boarding houses after this.  The locals were friendly and while they considered me an idiot they managed not to do this to my face.  I don't know why, I agreed with them!  Had I been making a telly programme about this I would find adventures, women, excitement, women, crimes, women, rich rewards, women, interesting places full of the rich with women, but as it was just me I merely took a fifty mile shortcut that took me a mere ten miles further on one day, and no women!  The wind, naturally, was constantly against me, the rain knew where I was, I discovered that 'Mild' was acceptable beer, that 15th century pubs bedrooms floors sank in the middle, and that when you pass the Hartlepool United Football Club doorway you are miles of course. I intended to ride through York but took the wrong road and went around it and couldn't be bothered to go back, I stopped to take a picture of the lovely pink sunset over the 'Selby Oil & Cake Works,' forgetting the 'Instamatic' had a Black & White film inside,  and that road signs saying 'Village 1 mile,' are followed at 30 yards by another claiming 'Village 1/2 mile.'  


I suppose it was worth it but how I did it I do not know.  The bike was sent back via a carrier, and took 8 days to arrive, and I returned by train!  No fool me.  Had I the energy would I do this again? Yes, but with a bit more planning this time, and a car as back up!  I used the bike a lot in those days, for work and pleasure.  I cycled over the Forth Bridge and back via Kincardine, up into the lower Pentlands, struggling up the slope, and racing back as Edinburgh slopes down to the Forth so I got home a lot quicker than I went out! The only problem with the bike was that twice the tyre exploded in the middle of the night while at home!  We never worked that one out.  The 'Sun' racer was a good bike for me, but I prefer my present ageing one I must admit.  Maybe I had better try another trip tomorrow as they claim snow is on the way.  Hopefully it will remain in Scotland, where it belongs!





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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Icy Saturday




The frost still lay heavy on the ground well into the morning today, although I went nowhere near it until then, and I expect it will be similar tomorrow the temperature already dropping.  The benefits this morning include few folks bringing their kids into the Gardens, although as I was searching for a picture one couple and brat began to play around in my sights so all I could capture was this grabbed shot of the freezing park with a hazy mist, caused by the ice slowly turning to mist in the sunshine.  The potential for good pics was all around but the subject was either in the wrong place or covered in people rushing to and fro as they tend to do on Saturdays.


I myself rushed home with my prize of tomatoes and mushrooms and made myself a health conscious lunch. Once more I turn to improve my diet, exercise more, and instead I spent the rest of the day in front of the PC watching or listening to the football!  You will be glad to know that thanks to the great Czech star Rudi Skacel the Heart of Midlothian thrashed the excellent St Mirren by five goals to two and brought smiles to all decent people everywhere.  Sadly Hibernian won and moved clear of Dunfermline at the bottom and the hopes of the Hibs relegation are beginning to fade.  Still there is still time for them to fall apart.


Saturday night means most folks have nothing to say so hear is some Saturday night music. I know you people of taste will enjoy this.




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Friday, 13 January 2012

History Needle




I post this for the benefit of nostalgia.  This is a needle on a 'record player' scratching its merry way across a black vinyl disc called a 'record.'  I suggest that those reading this may well be able to recollect such an item, even if they can only dimly remember them.  The fun of ensuring the needle did not get damaged, the fun of listening to the scratchy beginning before the silence and then the music that awaited the listener.  These records were light, came in covers that informed the buyer of the contents and later developed into works of art in themselves. Of course the lightness disappeared when several were carried at one time as they suddenly became a ton weight!  John Peel, the late lamented DJ had a huge collection of records, so many that the floor had to be reinforced to carry the weight in the store!  There were disadvantages beyond the need to care for the precious needle, and replacing needles was always a problem as the right one was hard to find.  A scratch on such a record could spell disaster.  On occasion it may be missed by the needle but on other times the needle would hit the scratch and jump the groove or, worse still, stay at the one spot and repeat, repeat, repeat the same spot over and over until action was taken.  Record made in the early fifties, which contained the great Rock and Roll stars of the day, suffered badly this way as the material used in the making was particularly fragile.  In the eighties I heard a fifteen minute programme in the US Army radio service (whatever it was called, I forget) in which the DJ played several original Rock and Roll records.  The first one or two were in good condition but each one following had more and more scratches, jumps and the last appeared to be broken in several places.  No mention or apology was made for this, they were just played and the next introduced!  I still have a reasonable collection of records, almost all Long Playing ones with excellent covers, and many obtained when the Library was selling them off to introduce CDs, the modern way to listen. There were many great Jazz records available one day but by the time I had made it home and returned with cash they had gone!  Tsk!  Many are still fetching good prices on E-Bay, and some shops do good business with vinyl only sales.  I think myself I would still go for CD's if I bought anything today, or even downloaded them the modern fashion if I ever have the cash.  At least if a CD is available it is always with you, and not lost when the PC dies I suppose.  However there is something missing with CDs and that is the large area that a Long Playing record cover gave us. Arty covers do not make such a splash when small.  One day these records will be considered with the same amusement that we have for a phonograph with a dog sitting in front of it!  It's a sair fecht so it is!



   

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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Busy Thursday



Most of this morning was divided between disputing with racist unthinking Englishmen on online papers website.  The fact that Scotland is close to Independence causes fear to run through their soul!  Most appear to have little historical knowledge, many claiming that Culloden defeated the Scots, although this was in fact the last battle in a British Civil War and at least one third of the Redcoat Troops were from various parts of Scotland.  Others insist with great humour, they think, that Hadrians Wall ought to be rebuilt.  Sadly the wall is quite deep into England but if they wish to return Northumbria to us, minus Newcastle's poverty problems, we would accept.  Many wrongly believe that England is paying large sums of their tax money to Scotland to keep it afloat.  This erroneous information is believed by many followers of the 'Daily Mail' and 'Daily Telegraph.'  In fact depending on how you read the figures it could be that Scotland gets back less than she puts in, but that does not suit the readership of the right wing nutjob press.  So I gently, usually, indicated their mistakes, and now I have a price on my head as thanks! I note the cartoonist Mac has twice refused to print my comments, I suppose the word 'racist' is disliked.  It is interesting how Alex Salmond has managed to run rings around the London elite regarding this.  His political superiority cuts through the 'insider dealing' that is Westminster and 'Dave' causes thousands to rush to the SNP's support every time he opens his mouth.  Keep going Cameron, by 2014 every Scot will be against you at this rate.  It is a strange thing that a nation so ignored in England should cause such consternation when it justly seeks to claim independence, could it be Scotland is needed by England much more than Westminster will ever willingly admit? 

As I write I notice the Dominic Letts item in the 'Daily Mail' has disappeared but yet another attack on Salmond has been published, this time from a Labour Party perspective.  'Daily Mail Bias'


I had time to debate with racists and morons this morning as I awaited John bringing my new oven.  The old one died a while ago and the landlord suggested I obtained a new one as their man was busy.  I had begun to look (my ManFlu had hindered this) but had got nowhere so far.  However John and I humped the old one downstairs and the new one up, and then sat awaiting the ambulance!  Both of us in times past used to hump furniture up and down stairs for a living and both have decided this is not for us now!  However the expert fixed it up and now I have a warm, clean oven. It is the clean bit that shocks me, I have never seen one like that before!  At last those ageing frozen foodstuffs at the back of the freezer compartment can be brought back into the light, if I can get them out of all that embedded ice!  Aint life strange?  There was a time a new oven would not have seemed that important to me, and now I keep going over to it and admiring the thing.  Funny how new objects get this attention, and suddenly one day they are no longer new, just bashed about, run of the mill, and requiring cleaning.  Still, like the oven cleaning, that can wait!
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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Carole King 'Tapestry Album.'




'Tapestry' by Carole King came out in 1971/  This album was so much one for its time that to me it says something still about those far off days.  The album cover, the music, the thoughts, all combine to speak to me at that time in a way nothing else did.  I bought this album, even though I am always in poverty, for about 38 shillings or so.  I only earned around £12 a week!  I played it constantly and indeed when I moved south in 75 I eventually obtained a tape recorder and bought a cassette (ask Mum kids) and wore that out playing it. Years change our opinions but I still say this album is one of the best I have ever known. Even the cat fits just right!





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Monday, 9 January 2012

The World Has Gone Mad!



For one our PR PM has decided to have a Cabinet meeting in the middle of the new made 'Handball Court' at the Olympic Stadium!  Here the first Cabinet of the year ignored the dicey economy, the unemployed, the tax dodging by his friends and instead concentrated on advertising the white elephant that is the Olympics. You may have guessed that I am not too enamoured by the Olympics, I like some aspects, people throwing things, weightlifting and a few other events, but so much of it is boring and will take up more TV time than Wimbledon does.  I also think it would have been better to let the French have it, then they can pay at least £9 Billion for it!  Obviously the World Cup was more important but long ago, when Manchester attempted to get the Olympics, the powers that be decided they wanted it and it had to be in London, Manchester not being important enough to London based politicians and business types.  'Dave' has told his people to go out and advertise the Games, does he think we don't care?  The reason I suppose is that any benefits, if any, will go to London and the rest of the nation will be paying for this but getting nothing back.  Much effort has gone in to spread the events, less to bring benefits and more to ease the grumbling about paying for London's Games.  These Games will of course reverse the recession Dave' will they?  Clearly no real discussion of any relevance took place here, that will occur tomorrow when the real Cabinet meets, and far too many microphones desperate to listen in to the blubbering mistakes which sadly did not occur, but 'Dave' will be happy with the publicity stunt, he likes those.
What? Me cynical.....?


Another aspect of the world going mad is 'No Pants Day,' as you can imagine this is an American idea!  Who else would consider large numbers of people sitting on trains with no trousers on and revealing acres of peelly wally flesh as fun?  It certainly would not have begun life in Scotland! It ought of course to be 'No Trousers Day' but as you know our colonial brethren are illiterate and wrongly attribute names where they ought not.  Will they ever learn?  The 'Daily Mirror' site contains more pictures and a video, which I assure you I have decided to avoid, as I am not convinced that revelations of what is inside a trouser leg ought to be made this way, or indeed in any other. Such pranks, while containing an element of humour, can also reveal much, indeed a great deal, that ought to remain hidden!  More Man Flu (and women's minor chills) on the way I can tell.


My tired and weary body dragged itself into town again this morning, and I decided to go with it, grumbling that I wished to remain abed for another day.  However the trip was not too bad, in fact the numbers of passengers were low and entirely free from needless acres of flesh being pressed into my eyesight by 'No Pants Day' militants.  In fact traffic everywhere was quiet today, some folks still on holiday it appears.  All was refined on the train, in spite of yet another hike in the price of travel and apart from a 15 year old Chav who let us all hear his 'Rap' for two stops.  How I wish that nice man on the Falkirk train was aboard at that moment.  Funnily enough as the said 'ned'  left the train I began to feel sorry for him.  He left the train at a country station and gave an impression of a life of 'Bumpkin' ahead of him.  He looked 15, not very bright, and if he was older he does not have a future as a brain surgeon awaiting him. I wonder if he noticed the other passengers let alone the noise?  In fact I was kind of depressed at the future that lay before him.  I also thought he was a bit like me at 15, stupid!  Where would I be if Jesus had not interfered?  So I didn't shoot him after all.  No doubt a tractor or an angry pig will get him one day.  

My meeting begun early, lasted less than 15 minutes, gave me no sympathy (she was a young woman after all!) and I left for my return train wondering if this was really worth it?  These people are meant to help us unemployed find work, even though there are no jobs, and they do not have any more idea than I have.  Worse still the place was filling up as I left with men of my age beginning their time here, all long term unemployed, most capable, and only one or two shirkers.  What chance have we I ask if we congregate in such numbers?  The Tories wish to stop benefits for those who refuse job offers, what job offers?  They want unemployed to work for free, where?  In short, rather than create jobs they fill the 'Daily Mail' with pledges and attacks on benefit scroungers.  I can tell them some of us wish we were working and do not like our situation!  That of course will not please 'Middle England' and the Tory voters prejudice.  

However the good thing was the time waiting to enter and I espied a couple of pics which did not quite work but I quite like anyway.  The third one is on the Foto sight.  The struggling effort has been good for the virus as it appears to be weakened considerably today.  One day soon I will eat again properly.  

Is your name on here somewhere?





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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Wednesday



Today life is beginning to return!  I was supposed to be at the Museum helping remove a display (Witch hunting in Essex in days of long ago.  Mind you I can see reason for bringing that back with one or two women I have met around here....) but poor wimp me did not have the strength having not eaten for a day or two.  (You are allowed to say "Awwww")  Later I was glad I stayed away as I cleaned up and threw out the rubbish and was exhausted after such effort. (All together, "Awww," oh please yourself!)  However I am on the mend and those of you asking whether my death insurance is up to date can stop planning your next sun drenched holiday, you will be going to Skegness!  How lovely eat again, how grateful I am to have life!  Funny how such a small pestilence can be so destructive, and it makes me wonder how others who suffer real disease and pain, and often for a long time at that, endure?  That is why the picture, taken yesterday in between howling gusts of rain, is above.  The blue sky, even with a tree yet to bare new leaves, still speaks of life!  Bright blue sky, sunshine and warmth can make even the most run down area (and people) look brighter. Daylight creates a better atmosphere in any workplace, although some folks like to hide away in the dark, especially those who are not too keen on actual work!  I love the sunshine and this morning, just as I rose, bright and early about seven thirty, from my pallet, I noted the sky brighter than for a day or two and soon a deep pink was rising.  Naturally it soon turned dull and dreich.  However the days are getting longer, the nights shorter, Spring is springing and the confused weather will bring long sunny days to this dark part of the world, especially if global warming increases!


Tsk!  I note there is another football match waiting to be watched tonight.  Is there no end of these I ask?  OK! If you insist I will put myself out and try and watch this one also. As there is the usual collection of cooking programmes, films, dross and surprisingly no soap operas tonight I think the football will provide a better end to the day don't you?  Of course you do.....yes you do!  


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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Back to Normal



The world returned to normal this morning. Vehicles sped up and down the road, the wireless offered death, despair and shock horror headlines, as did the rest of the media.  People grumbled as the passed my door, and this not surprising as the howling gales blew rain in sheets against my window, and the passers-by!  Indeed the world has forgotten the recent time of 'good will to all men,' and has returned to girning about the weather, the government, the neighbours and all else.  I, still suffering this virus have hardly slept all night. Food is not retained and I feel awful again, so normality is found here also.  My mood was not helped when the Landlords manager returned to work and informed me I will have to fix my dead oven myself!  Oh yeah?  How I ask?  They will pay but my hamfisted approach will ensure a fire that destroys half the town, what then! Bah! The rain is still coming down and I am sure the postmen will be rejoicing in such weather.  Gales blowing what mail there is out of their hands, rain filling the bags, and customers whining about 'paper mache' being put through their doors!  Up north much destruction is being caused by the storms there.  So we are not too bad I suppose.


One item caught my attention for a moment today.  David Hockney, an artist, criticised other artists, in particular Damian Hirst, for not being sole authors of their 'work.'  I found this quite amusing.  Here we have a man made famous by banal empty pictures unhappy with Damian's approach. If only either were real 'artists' and produced something that made a difference as opposed to something that made them a name then life would be better for all. Both have large bank accounts, neither cares much for any other opinion as far as I can see, yet these two are feted and prized by the chattering classes.  "It's a funny old world Saint!"


Now I like looking at aircraft.  I am no 'spotter,' as I often have no idea what I am looking at, but I enjoy watching the machines fly by.  Two 'Helicopter Spotters' claim to have driven into RAF Oldham, being 'waved by' by the security men as they followed a line of vehicles entering.  They claim they thought a display was under way and innocently wandered about taking pictures of the machines.  They drove up close to one or two and were somewhat surprised after ten minutes when an armed response unit responded with arms and locked them up. Max Award and Addison Bridet were interrogated for three hours and then released.  The MOD spokesman said security had not been compromised.  Not compromised?  Two men drive in unchecked, wander about, taking photos and security is 'not compromised?  Of course it was compromised!  How easy would a terrorist have found an entrance here?  How many other bases have poor security, and many employ 'outside security' to guard the base, partly to save money and [partly to release men for other duties.  I have always found this dubious.  The armed forces ought to guard themselves, and if RAF bases are so easily entered I suspect a resurgence in the RAF Regiment after this, although George Osbourne (the Chancellor) will not allow money to be spent on this.   


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